My wee baby is now six months old! This is generally the time people feel they have to start solid foods. Firstly, before we get into what are good options for first solids, it’s important to acknowledge that this is, like all developmental milestones, a real rough guide of timing. For some babes six months is appropriate for others they might not be ready then. There really is no rush.
(Also a disclaimer, I am not nutritional expert. I have personal experience and what I have read, researched and investigated in the past, this is my third babe about to explore solids for the first time. But I am not an expert. Regardless, here we go, Jess’s top favorite foods to introduce to babes! But first, indicators of food readiness…)
The signs of food readiness include:
- An interest and willingness to participate. This often comes first, for many babes, like Jack currently the underlying interest here is actually in mimicking. I made a post about entertaining Jack with a spoon for this stage as successful for a redirecting alternative (http://www.babywearingwithjess.com/2018/08/02/is-he-really-ready-for-solids-at-six-months/).
- Independently sitting. I am not sure how linked this stage of development is for food readiness but in terms of baby development, if you are to say to me independently sitting, this does not mean able to sustain a sitting position when propped up. For example with back carrying in a buckle carrier, the developmental leap about independently sitting refers to baby being able to independently get into and out of the sitting position, that they have the core strength and development to do that for themselves. So right now, while he has just turned six months, Jack is not yet doing this.
- When babe has lost the tongue thrust reflex. This is the reflex that causes them to push things out of their mouth rather than swallow. To test this you can put a small amount of milk on your finger and see if they push it outwards with their tongue. This is a normal reflex which stops them from choking before they have developed a strong gag reflex. This is also a good time to note that choking and gagging are not the same thing, gagging is normal and not something you need to be scared of but it is good to mentally prepare yourself for this as it can be startling to people not familiar with baby lead weaning.
- Starting to develop a pincer grip. This milestone in itself shows some of the advantages of some form of baby lead weaning approach being included in an introduction to this next stage. Remember babe actually gets all the nutrients they need from milk alone. Breast milk particularly is super clever and changes composition as your babe needs it. They actually communicate with your body through backwash when they feed, kind of gross maybe but almost like a super power!
My favorite first things to introduce include:
- Celery sticks
Celery contains eugenol, a chemical agent that scientists liken to anesthetic! It literally numbs your mouth! Plus if you have finger sized slices cut up in the fridge so they are nice and cold, it is a wonderful thing for teething babes to munch on. They won’t digest a huge amount of solid food with this option obviously but food before one is just for fun, that’s why until then it is generally recommend you do a milk feed first. It’s a textural and sensory exploration and celery certain fits that category. Plus it numbs the mouth, perfect.
- A bone
Nothing specific required but you want to make sure it is a solid bone with no bits of grizzle or anything that might come off. Leave a wee bit of meet on it, medium rare is awesome. Those juices alone from the bone are full of iron and all kinds of goodness easily extracted by babes. A fav kind of luxury item we buy in our house as a kind of tradition when our babes start solids is a lamb rack, it has the perfect shape and size bone, you can make the rack for adults and kids dinners (my kids still love ‘meat with a handle’) and then for the babe, take one off your own plate and roughly chop it chew it to make a treat for your babe to chomp on. Like cute little cave babies.
- Pumpkin or Kumara
Either in finger size slices cooked (roasted was always a hit here) or if you want to mash stuff to spoon feed them, this is also a good option. If you mash it though I would personally add just a little bit of water or breastmilk because they ingest so much more that way and it is easy for little pukus to get congested. In saying that, when you add solids of any kind it is also a good idea to introduce a wee bit of water too to keep things moving!
- Banana or avocado
These don’t need any cooking to be a nice mushy texture! They are super fun for little fingers to explore and easy to munch on. I have personally always let my babe so the mushing but if spoon feeding is your thing, these options are also good that way too!
What I wouldn’t personally be introducing as a first food is baby cereals or rices or really any kind of grain. Babes don’t have the gut enzymes to break these down and they offer little to no nutritional value. If you are worried about a drop in babies iron stores which is a common concern I have heard, try a bone or finger sized slice of steak which they can munch on and suck out the juices. (If you want to read more about baby cereals, you can find a post here – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12215177)
So for us here, Jack has had his first munch on celery! That will be more than enough in our household for the next few weeks at least. This dude is still a windy babe I don’t need to add anything else to the equation right now.
Is your pick of favourite first foods in the list here or was something else more popular for you and your babes?